Natural dyes on natural fibre
Artisans at the workshop...
THE FRAGRANCE of fresh split palm leaf, bamboo, banana fibre and screw pine fills the air while craftsmen prepare `katha' and other natural dyes on six to seven `choolhas' under the watchful eye of one of India's foremost experts in natural dyes, Smt. Jagada Rajappa. Other dyes which will be made later in the day will include `avatto' and brazil wood dyes, turmeric, indigo and other ancient time-honoured natural dyes for which India has been historically famous. From the indigo `ikat' fabric found in a Pharoah's tomb to the rose madder scrap dug up at Mohenjodaro, from Biblical references to Indian dyes to 17th century Europe's fascination with Machilipatnam `painted' cloth, India's heritage of natural dye fabrics has been a metaphor of excellence. It all but vanished with the onslaught of chemical dyes, which were introduced in the 19th century. However, a few pockets of ancient dye knowledge continued to survive and textile dye experts and environmentalists picked it up to become part of the natural dye revival movement in the latter part of the 20th century.
One of the revivalists is Smt. Jagada Rajappa whose natural dye `recipes' are internationally acclaimed. Crafts Council of India's `Natural Dye on Fabric Workshop' currently being held at Kalakshetra is a part of the movement to reintroduce natural dye in the mainstream of lifestyle. The participants in the workshop are craftspersons, who work with fibres. They are being taught how to make dyes out of locally available materials and to use them to colour their fibres.
In a sense, it is familiar ancient knowledge being revisited for craftspersons from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Assam. Not only do they quickly internalise the eco-friendly holistic aspect of the natural dye philosophy but are also aware of their medicinal qualities. Also as Shakuntala Ramani who inaugurated the workshop said in her inaugural speech, fibre has cellulose and will easily absorb natural dyes.
During the three-day workshop which ends today, the craftspersons have been taught dye making as well as application of dye on their fibres. They work with Smt. Rajappa who has demonstrated as well as given them the recipes of creating the various dyes.
The result of dyeing in the various natural fibres have been more than satisfactory with an emerging new palette of brown, red, green and indigo. Most satisfactory has been the enthusiastic response of the fibre craftspersons who will now be able to work with locally available `nautral' dye materials. The vividly-coloured natural fibre dyed with natural colours during the workshop will be seen at Crafts India-2004 organised by Crafts Council of India and sponsored by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. Crafts India is on at Guild of Service, Casa Major Rd., Egmore from December 3-12.
Send this article to Friends by